Self-Driving Cars With No Human Backups in Testing on Arizona Roads

Alphabet is finally taking the driver out of some of its driverless cars

In a speech at the Lisbon Web Summit on Tuesday, Waymo CEO John Krafick said, "We recently surveyed 3,000 adults across the USA, asking them when they expected to see self-driving vehicles - ones without a person in the driver's seat - on their roads".

That means there won't have to be a person sitting in the driver's seat, waiting to take over, and that the car's computer system will complete all parts of the driving task - though for now, only in some of the company's cars in Phoenix, Ariz.

Last week, USA auto retailer AutoNation Inc. announced a multiyear partnership for vehicle maintenance and repairs for Waymo's self-driving car operations. Most of the measures Waymo has described in the past have involved a human taking over control of the vehicle from the driver's seat, but that would be quite hard to do from the back of the auto. Its Early Rider Program has given riders in the Phoenix the chance to try Waymo's automated ride-sharing service for themselves, though with a human driver behind the wheel ready to take control if needed.

"Over time, we'll cover a region that's larger than the size of Greater London, and we'll add more vehicles as we grow".

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny strongly supports Waymo's testing in his city.

"What is clear, however, is that Waymo has positioned itself as a central player in the space, and one that knows exactly what it wants to be, which can't be said about numerous other companies who have jumped into autonomous technology". Waymo's leap to Level 4 is a huge step beyond even the Audi AI system of the new A8, which can take over driving but only through low-speed highway traffic jams.

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Speaking at the Lisbon Web Summit, company chief John Krafcik said that Waymo is "now working on making this commercial service available to the public", reports Fortune. "Our Chrysler Pacifica minivans are our most advanced self-driving vehicles to date, and testing in snow, sleet and ice will help further hone our driving capabilities".

Waymo is also signaling one of its potential business models for self-driving cars, in the form of a car-share service. "Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the USA and around the world".

Waymo was officially christened as a standalone company back in December of 2016.

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Google, conducted the tests between 2012 and 2013, says Tech Crunch, when the company planned to introduce a "semi-autonomous" system that could handle multiple driving functions.

Fiat Chrysler became the first automaker to directly work with Google's self-driving auto project in 2016 when it designed and engineered 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids.

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